How To Stop Re-Teaching The Same Material

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When you teach the same thing for three days straight, and your students still don't get it.

Why aren't your students learning? You're doing everything right. You spend hours planning lessons, grading homework, and you even leave nice comments on their papers—even though you know the students are likely to throw them out. Don't you hate it when you give your students the exact problems that will be on the test, you go over each of the answers with them, and THEY STILL FAIL THE TEST! What the.... Please tell me, how do you get the problems wrong when you go over every single problem in class? 

What's the solution?

Allow me to introduce you to the perfect solution that will end all your miseries with re-teaching: test them more. Wait a minute? My kids aren't learning, they're flunking their tests, and your solution to stop re-teaching is to test them more? Are you crazy!

No, I'm not crazy. I know it sounds funny, but I can tell you from experience and from ironclad research (see the testing effect), testing more actually works. 

Memory first, notes second.

To get more students to pass your tests you must increase their ability to remember what you teach. Remember this mantra: memory first, notes second. I tell it to my students every day. If you want your students to learn anything, and remember what they learned, you must get them to use their memory before they look at their notes. 

Flashcards are the perfect example. On one side of the card there is a question, and on the other side is the answer. Your goal, when using flashcards, is to answer the question without looking at the other side. The best part is that you can verify if you are right or wrong by simply looking at the answer on the other side of the card. 

Your job as a teacher is to force your students to use their memory prior to looking at any notes. Notes are not bad, they just need to be used correctly, which is when you get stuck. Too many times I've seen students make the huge mistake of using their notes while as they complete their assignment. That is the worst thing you can do. It weakens your memory and you will do poorly on your test.

Test your students everyday

Testing your students more doesn't mean more grading for you. You can teach the same way, all you have to do is change the dynamic. For instance, ask your students to see how far they can get answering questions without using their notes. Tell them to use their notes when they get stuck, or to verify if they are right or wrong.

Memory first, notes second can feel uncomfortable at first, but just tell them no pain, no gain.

One example

There are plenty of free programs out there you can use to create flash cards. I love using Quizlet because it has different ways to test your students, and its FREE. Check out the following samples from Quizlet that I use with my students. 

1. Study these facts here

2. Test yourself here

You'll find that testing yourself doesn't have to be painful, and your students will actually enjoy it. They won't even realize that they are studying. That's great because you will have sharper students that will perform better on their tests, and most importantly... 

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...finally you can stop reteaching.

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The Educator

School Your Brain

The Magic Bullet to Classroom Management

Did you really think there was a magic bullet to classroom management? 

I hate to break it to you, but classroom management takes an arsenal, not a single shot. 

Matter of fact, classroom management is a war. It takes time, an unshakeable mindset, and ironclad tactics.

As intimidating as that may sound, I do have some good news for you: there are fundamental laws to the art of classroom management. 

Here are two fundamental ideas you can use in your classroom today: 

  1. Always reward any behavior that you expect of your students.  
  2. The reward must coincidentally be associated to the behavior you want your students to repeat.

Note: A reward does not have to be gifts or candy; you can simply say to a student, "Good job!" or give them a high-five. 

Lets take a look at these ideas in action: click on the image below.  

There you have it. You now have two powerful ideas you can immediately use in your classroom. 

Here's your homework: The next time you teach, find and praise the behaviors you want from your students. Don't forget, the praise must be associated to the behavior coincidentally—not a second later! 

Leave a comment below, and like and share this post if you want to see more strategies and tactics in the future.

How Your Focus Makes or Breaks Your Love for Teaching

Have you ever heard of the question, Is the glass half empty or half full? They both are the same glass of water, however, what you see depends on your focus. If you think the cup is half full, then you’re right. If you think the cup is half empty, then you’re right too.

Think of this cup of water as your classroom.

Some days the cup looks half full, other days it looks half empty. But you know things are bad when you start to only see the cup as half empty.

I used to be a happy. I had fun with my students and I enjoyed teaching. Then something happened: I suddenly stopped enjoying my job.

I changed from the feeling of Happy Monday! to Is it Friday yet? I started feeling horrible things:

  • My classroom management sucks

  • These kids don't want to learn

  • I’m not good enough

  • I don’t know what to do

I was so stressed because the problems seemed to never go away, and it felt like they were getting worse every day. I didn’t know if I could stick around as a teacher anymore. Why bother? It was too stressful, and it felt like I was going crazy. I wanted to quit!

Luckily, I didn’t resign. My mentors said I didn't need to quit my job as a teacher, and that all I needed to do—to love my job again—was change my focus.

To understand how you can enjoy your job more by changing your focus, watch the video below.

Get started! Try the following in your classroom:

When your students come in to class, pay attention to the ones that follow your expectations. For instance, if you expect your students to sit down and take out their notes, rather than saying, Quiet down! or Take out your notebook!, you can say, I see Johnny is waiting quietly to get started, or Sam has her notebook out and is ready to learn. Next, during the lesson, pay attention to those students that are working hard for you. Reward them as soon as you catch them, and it must be in that exact moment. Not a second later! You can make it into a game. For example, if you catch a student raising their hand, say, Nice job raising your hand; or, if a student participates and gets an answer wrong, say, Nice try! Keep thinking, and don't forget mistakes make you better if you learn from them. 

I'm always on the lookout for students that follow my expectations so that I can give them a compliment. That is my focus in the classroom. And it’s so much fun! Every day is another chance at playing the game of finding students that are doing what I expect of them and then complimenting them.

These examples may sound simplistic, but the point is you need to change your focus from seeing the glass as half empty into seeing the glass as half full. It's possible! I've done it myself.

Keep in mind, whether you think the cup is half empty or half full, you’re always right.

Share:  

How do you see your classroom: is it half empty or half full? What are some things you find yourself focusing on every single day? Do you look for the good in students or do you look for the bad?

Also, have you ever felt like quitting? If so, why? Share the things you focus on that makes you see it that way. Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!

Also, let me know if you tried my classroom tactic to change your focus. How did it feel? Was it weird to change your focus towards the students that were doing what you wanted them to do? Share below.

If you want to learn more tactics that can help you enjoy teaching, sign up at School Your Brain.

The Educator

School Your Brain